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Letters to Sala

Letters to Sala


Salaís Labor Camps


Map illustrating the sequence and duration of Sala Garncarzís imprisonment
Map illustrating the sequence and duration of
Sala Garncarzís imprisonment

The pace of deportation increased dramatically in 1942. On August 12, according to eyewitnesses, some 50,000 Jews from the Sosnowitz region were herded into a sports field where they stood for days in summer heat without food while the Nazis carried out a gigantic selection. Those with local employment papers, like Sala’s sister Laja Dina Krzesiwo and her family, were allowed to return home; some, including Sala’s sisters Raizel and Blima, were sent to slave labor camps. Sala’s parents were among the thousands of other Jews—the elderly, the infirm, and children—who were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz.

From June to December 1942, Sala was transferred five times, never farther than a few hours from Sosnowitz. Her survival skills had been honed from the time of her first experience at Geppersdorf —and she was lucky. People liked her, and some of the Nazi guards helped her. Even so, each transfer endangered her letters and required a new hiding place. During searches, she handed her bundle of letters to friends, buried them, or hid them in her clothing.

Raizel was able to continue writing from a slave labor camp at Neusalz, where she and Blima worked in a cotton-processing plant. And Ala wrote from Bendsburg and Sosnowitz, upbeat and positive, ever the mentor, until just before the ghettos were liquidated on August 1, 1943, and the remainder of the Jews were deported.

The head of the Judenrat, Moshe Merin, had already been sent to Auschwitz, on June 19. Organization Schmelt was shut down, and its camps were merged into the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Gross Rosen. Albrecht Schmelt retired to his country estate.